Friday, May 9, 2014

Low to No Calorie Diet Iced Tea

How to make a full gallon of Milo's copycat, pre-sweetened, robust Iced tea, using sugar substitute.
A low to no calorie recipe for a full gallon of presweetened, robust iced tea, using sugar substitute.

Low to No Calorie Diet Iced Tea (Milo's Copycat)

It used to be you ordered tea anywhere in The South, and iced sweet tea was what you both expected and got, without you having to say so.

There is no doubt that we are still very endeared to our sweet tea in The South, but these days you have to specify - sweet, unsweet, half and half sweet and unsweet, half and half, tea and lemonade, or, hot! I don't have a huge sweet tooth, and find most everybody else's sweet tea to be far too sweet for me, so when The Cajun and I eat out anywhere, I always order the half sweet and half unsweet and that suits me just fine.

Now... {Southern Style Hissy Fit Soapbox Warning} before somebody starts fussin' with me... I do realize that many Southerners already have their own way of making tea, and I'm sure I'll hear from them.

Seems some folks were born with a natural cookbook in their head and knowing exactly how to make everything without the likes of me, or anyone else, to teach or tell them anything. Well, the Good Lord forgot to install that built-in, internal knowledge for me.

Like many of you, I had to learn - from my Grandma Mac, from my Mama, from friends, cookbooks and simple trial and error. Since there are plenty of folks who land here looking for a good tea recipe, and plenty more, who tell me they can't seem to make a pitcher of tea to save their life, even following the recommendations on the boxes... well, I know I'm not alone. So, this is for the rest of us. All of you tea experts can just go on about your day without letting us know how silly you think we are, bless your hearts.

Use your microwave to boil the water with a 8-cup Pyrex measure.

Oh, and while I'm fussin' anyway... , while my preference is a sugar/Stevia blend for sweetening, it is an expensive product, so especially in the heat of the summer when I make gallons of this diet tea, I very often use a brand of Sucralose. If using either one of those things tends to upset you or makes you wanna lash out and lecture God and everybody about what they should do, save your breath. I am a nearly 60 year old intelligent and educated woman and quite capable of discerning for myself what to do with my life, including what I consume, bless your heart. Just move on along, nothing to see or do here.    {soapbox out}

As much tea as we consume in this humid Coastal environment that I live in, sweet tea has become all but an occasional treat in our household these day. Like many of you, we too are watching our sugar intake these days, so while we enjoy a glass of sweet tea once in awhile, we have been making pitchers of unsweetened tea for years and adding a sugar replacement per glass.

No time to make tea? Here's some of my favorites from the store!

Ever been so busy that you didn't even have time to make a pitcher of tea? Well, during our recent move, I barely had time to turn around, much less write recipes, cook, or even make tea, and it was hot, dirty work, so we made our way through multiple gallons of pre-made iced tea.

There are several brands available these days, but I do really like Milo's the best, which I think is as good as homemade, because well... it IS homemade, although I occasionally buy other brands, like Red Diamond too, though it's harder to find the sugar free version around here.

There are lots of much fancier brands of iced teas now, really, but I like these two the most. I hear that Duck Dynasty's Uncle Si even has his own brand out now. Well, The Cajun is definitely a sweet tea and Coke addict, but during this move, I was able to convince him to try the No Calorie, Splenda sweetened version of Milo's.

And then we finally got to a point where the moving wasn't so hectic. And we ran out of jugs of tea. And, I had an epiphany.

I made a copycat and The Cajun didn't notice!

As many times as I've made a pitcher of unsweetened tea, The Cajun, being a sweet tea lover, would rarely touch it. But... he was drinking the Splenda sweetened Milo's. So I took the empty jugs, mixed up a homemade batch of no calorie tea with Splenda in them, stuck the jug in the fridge, and didn't say a thing. Let's just say The Cajun liberally consumed my impostor tea with enthusiasm. Is that a bad thing? Not if I can get him away from drinking full sugar sweet tea and cold drinks for just a bit, I really don't think so.

Now, in all fairness, I haven't worked out the cost, though I am making the assumption that making your own no to low calorie tea surely is a little less expensive, after-all you are paying for the convenience for a premade product, but I admit, I'll still enjoy the convenience every once in awhile.

Y'all already know my favorite tea bags for iced tea, but I figured I'd better do a couple of step by steps so you'll see I actually did refill the jug. I make this as a concentrate, similar to my sweet tea. Since so many of you love using the family size bags, that's how I wrote it and since we can't be foolin' around with single glasses and 2-quart pitchers in the heat of a Deep South summer, I wrote it for the full gallon.

Wow, that's a lot of yakkin' about tea! Let's just make some for pete's sake. Here's how.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. I use filtered Kentwood water just because we like the taste of it better over tap and I boil my water in a large 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup, in the microwave. If you don't have that piece of Pyrex in your collection, you should get it! Add four family size Luzianne tea bags and steep for 6 minutes. A conversion to individual tea bags should be about 3 per family bag. Start there and adjust to your own personal preference on the next batch. Since caffeine now tends to cause disturbance in my sleep (ain't aging just grand?), I sometimes do a half and half tea of regular and decaf, and I also sometimes exchange out some of the regular tea for green tea. Luzianne has all of these teas - in family size bags too by the way!

Occasionally I like to toss in a bag or two of herbal tea. I really love Traditional Medicinals brand. They have all kinds, but these are two of my favorites to add to my regular tea - Ginger Aid, good for digestion, and Green Tea Lemongrass. Roasted Dandelion Root is another favorite I use.

Lightly squeeze the tea bags, remove and compost or discard. Whisk in the sweetener until fully dissolved. Now one note... I have noticed that the same measurement among various generic brands and types of sweeteners will vary by sweetness. Again, start with this measurement on your first batch and then adjust to taste on the next.

Fill a one gallon pitcher with 8 cups of cold water. Carefully add the tea concentrate to the cold water, stir and set aside to cool to room temperature. I know, I've broken my rule about plastic, but, as quick as we fly through this tea, I think I'll forgive myself,  reserve Mama's tea pitcher for company and not feel one bit bad about it.

Refrigerate until the tea is fully chilled and flavor develops before serving. Keep any leftovers refrigerated as well.

For more of my favorite iced tea recipes, check out my collection on Pinterest!

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Posted by on May 9, 2014
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